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In kyiv, Orban demands from Zelensky a “ceasefire” with Russia

Hungarian leader Viktor Orban, whose country close to Russia has just taken over the presidency of the EU, has called for action. Tuesday à kyiv Ukraine à a "ceasefire", à reversal of the positions of the Ukrainians and their European allies.

“I asked the president to quickly consider the possibility of a ceasefire”, which would be “limited in time and would make it possible to accelerate the peace negotiations”, declared Mr. Orban, alone in the EU to have remained close to the Kremlin since the start of the war with kyiv in February 2022.

The Ukrainian president's “initiatives” “take a long time, are slow and complicated due to the rules of international diplomacy”, argued the Hungarian official whose country has just taken over the rotating presidency of the European Union on July 1 for 6 months.

He thanked Mr. Zelensky for the “candor” of the conversation and promised to “report” the content of these discussions to the Council of the European Union “so that the necessary European decisions can be taken.”

In kyiv, Orban demands from Zelensky a “ceasefire” with Russia

Ukrainian artillerymen fire a French-made Caesar self-propelled gun in the Donetsk region (east) on June 27, 2024. © AFP – Roman PILIPEY

Alongside his guest, the Ukrainian president did not react to his proposal. In the past, he had already firmly rejected the idea of ​​a truce with Russia, believing that Moscow would only use it to strengthen its army.

The Ukraine sees the withdrawal of Russian forces from its territory as a prerequisite for peace, while Moscow demands that it abandon five regions and renounce its ambitions to join NATO.

– Maintain European aid –

For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky reaffirmed that Mr. . Orban illustrated “common European priorities, how important it is to bring a just peace to Ukraine and to the whole of Europe”.

In kyiv, Orban demands from Zelensky a “ceasefire” with Russia

Ukraine: positions of military forces © AFP – Valentin RAKOVSKY, Sophie RAMIS, Cléa PECULIER

President Zelensky also called for maintaining “at a sufficient level” the military aid paid by Europe to kyiv.

The Hungarian Prime Minister also stands out for his opposition to this assistance, which is extremely valuable for Ukraine in the face of Russia.

At the start of the year, he vetoed an envelope of 50 billion euros, which was ultimately validated late.

Volodymyr Zelensky and Viktor Orban therefore maintain rather fresh relations and their rare meetings are highly scrutinized.

The Hungarian leader, arriving in kyiv for a surprise visit in the morning, nevertheless mentioned his desire to “improve” bilateral relations.

“We are trying to leave the discussions of the past behind us”, he assured, thanking his host for the “frank and open” atmosphere of their exchanges.

“During the Hungarian presidency, we are at Ukraine's disposal and we will do everything we can to help it”, he assured .

Nationalist and eurosceptic, in power without interruption since 2010, Viktor Orban was also fiercely opposed to any discussion of EU membership for Ukraine.

– Hungarian minority –

He finally agreed to leave the summit table of the leaders of the Twenty-Seven last December, while his 26 counterparts decided to open accession negotiations with kyiv.

MM. Orban and Zelensky have met briefly several times over the past two years, but this is the first time they have had real negotiations.

The Kremlin, questioned on Tuesday about Viktor Orban's trip to Ukraine, declared that it expected “nothing” from it. Spokesman Dmitry Peskov described Orban as a man who “firmly defends the interests of his country.”

The Hungarian leader disapproves of the European sanctions passed against Russia and is trying to soften them. He has repeatedly called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “military operation”, repeating the expression used by the Kremlin to avoid talking about “war”.

Hungary has also taken in far fewer refugees than most EU members.

In kyiv, Orban demands from Zelensky a “ceasefire” with Russia

After Russian bombings in Torest, eastern Ukraine, June 25, 2024 © AFP – Roman PILIPEY

The quarrel between kyiv and Budapest is not new and diplomatic relations had already deteriorated before the invasion, because Ukraine has adopted since 2017 a series of controversial measures on the status of the Ukrainian language and linguistic minorities.

More than 100,000 people of Magyar origin live in Transcarpathia, a region in western Ukraine that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the First World War.

Viktor Orban's visit comes at a difficult time for the Ukrainian army, lacking men and weapons in the face of Russian forces which are slowly gaining ground on the eastern front.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116